When going to the Iowa State Bookstore, most college students are on a mission. They’re both there to buy a newly required textbook, lastly getting a TopHat subscription or they’re fed up with a pesky laptop computer charger and are shopping for a brand new one.
For Linda Tong, she was on a special mission: to see her merchandise among the many others the Iowa State Bookstore has to supply.
Initially, Tong had crafted a bullet journal for herself as a option to keep organized and get in contact along with her artistic aspect. A co-worker had seen the bullet journal and requested Tong if she would fee her one.
“I first found what bullet journaling was round 4 years in the past,” Tong mentioned. “I’ve all the time been creative rising up, so I knew it was going to be one thing I favored to do. I didn’t ever give you, ‘oh my gosh, I’m going to start out promoting these,’ after I made my first one. It was any individual that wished me to make it for them and that’s form of the place it began.”
And the remainder is historical past. Extra co-workers and pals of Tong’s had seen the intricate and detailed planners she was producing, and Linda Tong Planners was born.
Gaining inspiration from latest and previous travels, Tong designed months and weeks inside her handmade bullet journals primarily based on expertise. Designs included San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and rows of homes in Norway.
“I took this entrepreneurship class round this time final yr, and that’s form of what actually bought me within the entrepreneurship a part of it,” Tong mentioned. “I used to be getting to some extent the place I couldn’t fulfill all of the orders I had and needed to have a ready listing. In order that’s the place I made a decision, if I wish to proceed doing this and I would like it to develop and turn into a profession of mine, I would like to enter mass manufacturing.”
Tong had made a objective for herself in 2019 that in a single yr, her planners could be promoting in retail places. Quick ahead to November 2020, and Linda Tong Planners are in two retail places.
In August 2020, one week earlier than fall semester courses started, Linda Tong Planners have been stocked within the Innovate 1858 store inside the Scholar Innovation Heart. Three months later, Linda Tong Planners have been bought within the Iowa State Bookstore.
Other than retail places, Linda Tong Planners have a heavy on-line presence, with an easy-to-use and interesting web site in addition to a big following on TikTok.
From day-in-the-life movies to packaging ASMR, Tong’s movies expose the behind-the-scenes of proudly owning and working your individual small enterprise and the way shortly it gained traction on the app.
“I initially didn’t get the app at first, it took me a very long time to get the app,” Tong mentioned. “However then after I began searching it and getting a really feel for the type and seeing what different small companies do, I knew it was one thing I wanted to do as properly, and it ended up figuring out very well and I bought actually fortunate, individuals ended up liking my movies.”
The planners are made with vegan-quality leather-based, as Tong is aware of it’s vital to be sincere about what her merchandise are product of.
“I feel individuals today are very conscious and so they like understanding what goes into all of their merchandise, so I feel that’s why it was vital to reveal it,” Tong mentioned. “Sooner or later, I do wish to step it as much as extra of a really high-quality, designer form of planner.”
The difficulty with planners, sadly, is that they’ll solely be bought throughout a particular time all year long, as they’re dated. Shoppers aren’t going to purchase a 2021 planner in November of 2021, due to this fact forcing Tong to get artistic with different merchandise she might doubtlessly promote.
Creating undated weekly and every day planners has helped Tong’s enterprise keep related and supplied customers a special product apart from dated, customizable planners.
“I wanted one other product that was going to have the ability to promote all year long,” Tong mentioned. “Notepads are one thing that may be purchased all year long. I do know I’m somebody that may purchase a notepad any time of the yr as a result of it’s a little bit extra common to make use of. I wished to department out a little bit extra into my artistic aspect digitally as properly. I wished to check out what different merchandise my clients could be keen to purchase.”
Tong’s objectives for the yr of 2021 embody shifting into an workplace house and increasing her crew, which now contains high quality checkers, stampers and a social media intern. Tong additionally needs to double her income from 2020, with hopes to arrange extra retail places in addition to worldwide gross sales.